It has been a week and a half since regulations went into effect requiring customer service call centers in a number of industries to answer consumers' calls within three minutes. The new rule seems to have had a major effect, although some major businesses were found not to be complying when TheMarker placed some test calls.
If customers' calls are not answered within three minutes, they must be given the option of leaving a message, in which case the company must return the call within three hours. The new rule applies to communications companies - including cellular, Internet and television service providers; natural gas providers; water utilities and the Israel Electric Corporation; and firms providing ongoing medical support services, such as Natali, Shahal and Bikur Rofeh. Among those not in compliance when TheMarker called were Golan Telecom and the Israel Electric Corp.
When a call was placed to Golan Telecom - a cellular service provider - the caller waited on the line for more than 16 minutes, after which the call disconnected.
In a call to the Israel Electric Corp., a message offered the caller the chance to leave their own message. But while the company said the average wait time would be two minutes, it ended up taking over six minutes - although it should be added that the caller was repeatedly offered the opportunity to leave a message. In a second test call to the electric utility in which the caller did leave a message, the call was never returned.
In response to this report, Golan said that it was expediting improvements to its response time and was in the final stages of meeting the regulatory requirement. The firm said it was experiencing heavy demand due its promotional offers, adding that an independent testing agency found its wait time to be three minutes.
The Israel Electric Corp. said it investigated the particular test call and found that the caller had placed the call from a number that was different from the phone number for the caller in the system. In addition, the phone number the caller left for a call back was provided by pressing the telephone keypad rather than leaving a voice message as the outgoing message required.
"The company has now changed the [outgoing] service center message so it is clear that a telephone number should be left by voice message," the company added.